History of Crochet by Ruthie Marks

You and I call it crochet, as do the French, Belgians, Italians and Spanish-speaking people. It is known as haken in Holland, haekling in Denmark, hekling in Norway, virkning in Sweden.

Other forms of handwork knitting, embroidery and weaving can be dated far back in time, thanks to archeological finds, written sources and pictorial representations of various kinds. But no one is quite sure when and where crochet got its start. The word comes from croc, or croche, the Middle French word for hook, and the Old Norse word for hook is krokr.

According to American crochet expert and world traveller Annie Potter, "The modern art of true crochet as we know it today was developed during the 16th century. It became known as 'crochet lace' in France and 'chain lace' in England." And, she tells us, in 1916 Walter Edmund Roth visited descendants of the Guiana Indians and found examples of true crochet.

Another writer/researcher, Lis Paludan of Denmark, who limited her search for the origins of crochet to Europe, puts forth three interesting theories. One: Crochet originated in Arabia, spread eastward to Tibet and westward to Spain, from where it followed the Arab trade routes to other Mediterranean countries. Two: Earliest evidence of crochet came from South America, where a primitive tribe was said to have used crochet adornments in rites of puberty. Three: In China, early examples were known of three-dimensional dolls worked in crochet.

But, says Paludan, the bottom line is that there is "no convincing evidence as to how old the art of crochet might be or where it came from. It was impossible to find evidence of crochet in Europe before 1800. A great many sources state that crochet has been known as far back as the 1500s in Italy under the name of 'nun's work' or 'nun's lace,' where it was worked by nuns for church textiles," she says. Her research turned up examples of lace-making and a kind of lace tape, many of which have been preserved, but "all indications are that crochet was not known in Italy as far back as the 16th century" under any name.

(member of the Crochet Guild of America).

**US - worsted weight = 4ply
**Sport weight = 3ply


Yarn sizes are a potential source of confusion.  One system classifies yarns into 5 categories by the approximate diameter of the yarn.

A = Fingering or fine-weight yarns, good for thin socks and light baby clothes

B = Sport or Medium-weight yarns, good for indoor sweaters, baby things, dresses and suits

C = Worsted-weight or knitting yarns, good for outdoor sweaters, hat, mittens, afghans, and slippers

D = Bulky-weight yarns, used for rugs, heavy jackets, and crafts

E = Extra bulky-weight yarns, used mostly for rugs

                                                                                            Threads & Cottons


The are two systems for naming crochet stitches : American & British.  The American system names a stitch based on how many times you yarn over and draw through 2 loops.  The British system names stitches on the basis of how many total times you yarn over and draw through, including the loop drawn up after inserting the hook.  So identical British stitches sound one step longer then American stitches.  If your pattern doesn't provide a key, check for the slip stitch.  The British system has no stitch by this name.

Slip Stitch Single Crochet
Single Crochet Double Crochet
Half double Half treble
Double Treble
Treble Double treble
Double treble Treble treble



Hooks (especially antique hooks) can be made of just about anything: bone, ivory, horn, silver, brass, pewter, wood, mother of pearl, and tortoise shell.  You name it, you can find it.  Modern hooks are metal, plastic, or wood.

The diameter of the shaft of a crochet hook determines the size of the stitch since the loop is formed around the shaft.  The size of the hook determines the size of the yarn you can use.  Hooks are divided into two basic groups: yarn hooks and steel (thread) hooks.  Yarn hooks are made of aluminium, plastic, or wood.  They are generally used for larger diameter yarn.  They are also used for wire.  Steel (thread) hooks as the name implies are made of steel and are used for thread.

Yarn hook sizes are written in metric sizes (2.25mm - 15.0mm): letters (B-Q, Q being the largest): and sometimes by number (B=1 or 2 and so forth).  You may find any of these markings stamped on the hooks.

Steel hooks range from size 14 (0.75mm) to size 00 (3.5mm).  Steel hook sizes overlap in the 2.25 - 3.5mm range with yarn hooks.

The conversions given below are approximate only as they vary from different sources.

B/1 14 2 - 2.25mm
C/2 12 2.5 - 2.75mm
D/3 10 3 - 3.25mm
E/4 9 3.50mm
F/5 8 3.75 - 4.00mm
G/6 7 4.00 - 4.50mm
H/8 6 5.00mm
I/9 5 5.50mm
J/10 4 6.00mm
K/10.5 2 6.50 - 7.00mm
N - 9.00mm
P - 10.0mm
Q - 15.0mm


14 0.75mm
13 0.85mm
12 1.00mm
11 1.10mm
10 1.30mm
9 1.40mm
8 1.50mm
7 1.65mm
6 1.80mm
5 1.90mm
4 2.00mm
3 2.10mm
2 2.25mm
1 2.75mm
0 3.25mm
00 3.50mm

Information taken from Leisure Arts book # 15906 - Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet


6 0.60mm
5 0.75mm
4 1.00mm
3 1.25mm
2.5 1.50mm
2 1.75mm

Information taken from Anna Burda Knitting and Needlecrafts - English Supplement

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